Chinese authorities confiscate and burn satellite dishes and other broadcasting equipment in Malho region of eastern Tibet. (Photo courtesy/RFA listener)
DHARAMSHALA, January 10: Chinese authorities in the eastern Tibetan region of Malho are leading a massive drive to confiscate satellite dishes used by Tibetans after banning orders on “illegal satellite equipment” were issued last month.
The satellite equipments used by Tibetans to receive foreign radio and TV programmes are the only source of information inside Tibet besides the state sponsored propaganda news.
Regional authorities on December 24, 2012 had issued an eight-point public notice banning the sell, purchase, and use of all “illegal satellite equipment” as part of the government’s wider clampdown on communications to stifle information on the self-immolations against Chinese rule.
According to the notice, families failing to surrender the satellite dishes could be fined up to 5000 yuan (US$800) and those obstructing the official work of confiscating the equipment could be either fined or tried according to relevant laws.
Last month, Reuters reported that Chinese authorities confiscated televisions from 300 monasteries and dismantled satellite equipment that broadcast "anti-China" programmes.
"At this critical moment for maintaining social stability in Huangnan (Ch) prefecture ... (we must) strengthen measures and fully fight the special battle against self-immolations," the report cited a government run paper as saying.
The US based radio service, Radio Free Asia on Wednesday released pictures of what it described as Chinese authorities destroying and burning hundreds of seized satellite equipments as part of its “cleansing” exercise.
Chinese authorities confiscate satellite dishes. (Photo courtesy/RFA listener)
RFA said the campaign was centred around Rebkong (in Chinese, Tongren) region, which has been at the heart of the recent spike in self-immolation protests demanding an end to Chinese rule and calling for freedom and the return of exile Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
“Those found with the satellite equipment, which Tibetans have also used to listen to Radio Free Asia and Voice of America programmes, are given stiff fines,” RFA Tibetan service quoted an unnamed source from the region as saying.
"If anyone reports others holding back satellite and radio equipment to listen to foreign programmes, they will be awarded 10,000 yuan.”
Reporting on the clampdown last month, the Huffington Post had said that regional authorities further plan to “register every business that sells satellite signal receiving devices, and replace 3,000 television sets in monastery dormitories.”
The RFA report also noted that Tibetans were being encouraged to buy smaller satellite dishes and new receivers, which can be used to receive only state controlled programmes.
In November, Chinese authorities in Malho had announced
cash rewards for those “exposing crimes” related to the self-immolation protests and issued an ultimatum warning those who have “committed fault” to turn themselves in.
Despite repeated international calls for restraint and reconsideration of its policies, China has hardened its stance on the self-immolation protests and announced stricter measures including pressing of murder charges
against anyone caught aiding or inciting self-immolations.